I. What is a trade secret?
A trade secret can be any information not known generally in the
trade that is used in business to provide an advantage over
II. What is the value of a trade secret?
Trade secrets can create an advantage over competitors in many of
the same ways as patents. Also, the right to use trade secret
information can be licensed or the information can be sold outright.
Although trade secrets provide no protection against those who
independently develop the trade secret information, trade secrets
never expire as do patents and copyrights. For example, as long as
it is kept secret, the formula to COCA-COLA® will remain a trade
III. What kind of things can be a trade secret?
A trade secret can be any information that has value in that it is
useful in business and has some cost associated with its
development, and is generally and not commonly known in the
particular trade. The following types of information have previously
been found to qualify as proper trade secret subject matter:
A. customer lists;
B. chemical processes and formulas;
C. algorithms and processes that are implemented in computer
programs and the
D. designs, drawings, architectural plans and blueprints;
E. data compilations, business plans and methods of doing business;
F. manufacturing or repair processes and techniques.
IV. How are trade secrets obtained?
Trade secret rights can be obtained only by developing
the information representing the trade secret and maintaining the
secrecy of the information. The first step in obtaining trade
secrets, then, is to become aware of those things that give your
business a competitive advantage. All copies of the trade secret
information should be marked "confidential," access to the
information should be limited to key personnel, and the information
should be disclosed only in a written confidentiality and
non-disclosure agreement if it is to be disclosed at all.
V. How long does a trade secret last?
A trade secret lasts as long as it is secret. Once the
information is generally known in the trade, the trade secret status
and protection is lost and cannot be recaptured.
Trade Secrets Services:
Trade secret counseling
Representation in trade secret related transactions including confidentiality
agreements, assignments, and licensing
Trade secret related mediation and litigation